My last post argued that the use of prescribed minimums does our students a disservice. They learn to fluff up their prose to make documents longer. When those students enter the workplace, their prose style is entrenched. That means, as a writing teacher who attempts to build a bridge between school and work, most of my job consists of un-teaching things like fluffiness. And changing your writing style takes hard work.
One of my most memorable un-teaching experiences occurred with a doctoral student. Despite a myriad of talents (and success as a writer in her former workplace), she struggled with writing research papers — especially with her style. It interfered with her success and caused some faculty to give up on her. A couple of us didn’t because she could successfully talk about her research face-to-face. We invited her to work closely with us on weekly writing assignments related to her dissertation. I quickly diagnosed her difficulty as ingrained fluffiness. So I encouraged her to write about her research in the words she used when talking to me. It took a few months, but she succeeded because she was diligent. We called it finding her scholarly voice.
The tutorial on conciseness I’m sharing today was designed to help experienced students find their voice as workplace pros.
- Pros take time to trim their prose (proswrite.com)